Bayer is taking a new direction in the production of high-quality plastics with the help of carbon dioxide from the energy sector. A pilot plant has come on stream at Chempark Leverkusen to trial the new process on a technical scale. The plant produces a chemical precursor into which CO2 is incorporated and then processed into polyurethanes that are used in many everyday items. As a result, CO2 – a waste gas and key contributor to climate change – can now be recycled and used as a raw material and substitute for petroleum.
Leverkusen/Germany — The innovative process is the result of the “Dream Production” project; a collaboration between industry and science. Bayer is working on the project with the energy company RWE, which supplies the CO2 used in the process. Other project partners are RWTH Aachen University and the CAT Catalytic Center, which is run jointly by the university and Bayer. The researchers recently achieved a break-through in laboratory-scale catalysis technology which makes it possible to put CO2 to efficient use, for the first time.
“There is an opportunity to establish Germany as a market leader for these technologies and secure ourselves a leading role in a competitive international environment,” said Bayer Board of Management member Dr. Wolfgang Plischke on Thursday, when he addressed representatives from the media, government and science in Leverkusen. “The inauguration of this pilot plant is another milestone in a long line of Bayer projects that have used innovative technologies to develop sustainable production processes.”
The new process helps to boost sustainability in a number of different ways. For example, carbon dioxide may offer an alternative to petroleum, which has until now been the chemical sector’s main source of the key element carbon. Polyurethanes themselves also help to reduce energy consumption and protect the climate. When used to insulate buildings from cold and heat, they can save approximately 70 times more energy than is used in their production.
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